While gamers everywhere are having a good time smashing up cars and racing customized vehicles sometime around midnight, there are those of us that want to know what it’s like to be on the open road driving a truck filled with goods city folk are demanding. Big Mutha Truckers, though, is not your average trucking simulator. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at the life of a small group of truckers out get their fortune as well as the approval of dear old Ma. Sibling rivalry just doesn’t get any better than this … or does it?
The game focuses on the Jackson family, particularly the four Jackson kids — Billie-Sue, Cletus, Big Earl and Rawkus — who are given a challenge by their dear old Ma. It seems that shotgun-totting Ma has had enough and wants to retire from running the family trucking business. Because it’s good to keep the business running between family, she tasks her four children to a 60-day race to come up with enough cash. The Jackson with the most money wins the family business. Getting into the cab of their rigs, they each go off to make money quickly.
Each rig pretty much drives the same way regardless of appearance. This might actually be a good thing since it takes a lot of time to get comfortable with the movements of a rig hitched to a trailer. As a result of hauling a trailer, the rig’s movements are clunky and awkward — just what one might expect from driving a rig in the middle of a not-so empty highway. Thankfully the controls are simple and thus allow gamers to practice making turns or going reverse (which is a challenge in itself). All you really have to do is step on the gas pedal, steer and shift the gears every now and then.
Depending on which character you choose, people will respond to you different, but other than that the game plays the same way on the game’s main story mode, Trail by Truckin’. The object, of course, is to make tons of money before Ma’s 60-day time limit and that is done by checking out the local bars for tips on what each of the six cities needs the most. If Greenback is in dire need of beer, for example, it best to stop by, buy a container fitting for the transport of beer and then travel to the beer distributor so you can haul the goods back to Greenback. Along the way, you will receive challenges from rival truckers who want to race you to your next location. There are also the occasional missions that pop up for extra cash, but those don’t bring anything completely new to the game.
Careful management of your truck is also necessary if you want to continue hauling goods or racing. Your rig can take damage as well as burn plenty of fuel so regular stops to a location’s garage is highly recommended. There are also highway bandits — that come in the form of biker gangs — which try to steal part of your cargo. Shaking them off is a question of outrunning them. The same can be said about the police, which can pursue you if you’ve been smashing into too many highway vehicles.
The problem with this game is that the challenges don’t become offer anything completely different or add extra challenges aside from the usual parking bonuses. Unlike Sega’s The King of Route 66, there aren’t many other game modes available except for Missions Mode that takes its missions straight out of the Trail by Truckin’ mode. There isn’t even a multiplayer mode!
Big Mutha Truckers doesn’t impress visually even with its plentiful opening roads that are neatly rendered and highly detailed or the good-looking trucks the Jackson kids drive. Still, there’s something amazing about driving down the long stretch of road until you see your destination appear in the horizon so realistically. The many characters you encounter are rendered rather strangely, but it’s all about the humor and their appearance does fit their personalities.
Sound-wise, the games does a good job of bringing to life the sounds of a truck’s wheels on paved roads and the odd honk of your horn as the powerful engine supersedes the sounds of the traffic. The voice acting is done well, although the dialogue pokes fun at the accents. Much of what you’ll hear is exaggerated backwoods talk you’ll find in your average cartoon so only Southern people will probably be a bit offended by it. The winner here is the radio that offers up some hilarious talk radio down to a rock station that plays Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” Although it would have been more appropriate to have Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.”
Despite its amusing tone, gamers will find it difficult to really get into the trucking fun Big Mutha Truckers has to offer. You basically get to see everything this game has to offer too early in the game, making the rest seem more like a chore. This is not to say that the game doesn’t have its shining moments, it does but they are very limited in number. And without a multiplayer mode to share the open road with a friend, there is not much else to do here. If you’re feeling in the trucking mood, by all means, do rent this game.
Reviewer’s Scoring Details
The trucking controls seem to fit right at home with the PS2 controller even with the simple actions available. You basically steer, accelerate, and change gears and reverse. While this sounds easy enough, gamers will find that driving a rig that just happens to be hauling a huge load isn’t an easy vehicle to drive at all. In true trucking simulator fashion, you have to make wide turns on time and move in reverse slower than molasses. Aside from that, you have to watch the damage meter as well as your fuel meter.
Much of the game is spent looking for work — which can be found in your friendly neighborhood bar — or accepting racing challenges by rival truckers that just happen to be on the road as well. The majority of the jobs require you to haul certain goods from one particular city to one that’s a bit farther. Now this is the true trucking lifestyle, only by Day Five this all just seems to get old pretty quickly.
This game isn’t as pretty as a pig in a pitcher (whatever that means), but somehow it seems to sit well with the comical theme of the game. The game isn’t big on cut scenes but the few that are here look decent enough for gamers to notice that Big Earl’s hefty frame tips his rig when he climbs into it or that Cletus visibly has his front teeth missing. The Jackson clan really does stand out compared to the rest of the people you meet.
Yet this game is about trucking and the actual rigs look pleasing to the eye out there on the open road. Each of the Jackson kids have personalized their own rigs fitting of their own personality and it’s just hilarious to see Bobbie-Sue’s girly rig bound down the highway filled with manly trucks and biker gangs. The cities and towns found in Hick State County look downright decent, although there are some cities that shine brighter, detail-wise, than others.
The game does a good job of portraying the redneck stereotype, although much of what you’ll hear would be a slap in the face to any Southern folk. Still, it’s funny enough in the sense that it doesn’t fail to bring a smile to your face. Remember that hick in The Simpsons? That’ll give you an idea how folks like Cletus and Big Earl talk. Yet the stereotypes just don’t stop with the Jackson family, the several characters you meet are exactly how you would expect them to sound.
Still, the best part about the sound happens to be the working radio. You can switch the small number of stations that offer country, rock, talk radio and a station that plays songs that are oddly a kind of country hip-hop hybrid. Most of the tunes are originals, but you do encounter one or two familiar tunes such as “Born to be Wild.” The talk show, though, is right up there with the recent Grand Theft Auto games in terms of humor.
Truck driving is hard work and hard work is what you’ll expect to find if you want to win the race to Ma Jackson’s trucking empire. The racing challenges offered by your rivals are pretty challenging and you’ll find that one or two of them — like the trucking granny — are hard opponents to beat. You’ll also be offered some timed missions that have you racing against the clock to run over certain things, like newspaper stands, for certain people. And shaking the law or the biker bandits isn’t easy at all, although they too are prone to some nasty accidents.
Not only is this a trucking simulator, but it’s a trucking simulator with a sense of humor. While this is not a game to take seriously, it does manage to give us a peek into the life of a truck driver — especially the wheeling and dealing part of it. Gamers even get to do a little management, financing and even design work (you can design your own logo to fix on the back of your trailer). Yet the game fails to be generous in the game mode department. It would have been great if a multiplayer option was available so gamers could play along with a friend taking up the role of another member of the Jackson family in a split screen challenge. Mission Mode just doesn’t cut it.
Had there been extra game modes and a variety of unique challenges, Big Mutha Truckers could have been a highly entertaining game worthy of a purchase. Unfortunately, this is not the case and gamers will quickly grow tiresome of the same challenges and back-and-forth monotony. There is still some fun to be had here, but I suggest this one more as a rental.